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This Is Northern New South Wales

Living Earth


Driving through Mullumbimby on the first day of Spring, there was indeed a change in the air. Not only was every inhalation filled with the sweet scent of jasmine and lavender, but there was also a certain festive spirit in the breeze. The biggest small town in the country didn’t have the same lazy Sunday feel to it, instead, the streets were lined with cars displaying their anti CSG stickers and their Sea Shepherd flags, a father strolled along the footpath with his baby in a pram dressed as a circus performer, a dog with a hot pink bandana sauntered casually across the road, and children running about with glittery face paint carried chirping baby chicks and sunflowers the size of their smiling faces.

This was the second year of the Living Earth Festival held in the beautiful and abundant Community Gardens in the heart of Mullumbimby. While the festival last year was a rather small scale event, this year inaugurated a huge overhaul of the program, transforming the already gorgeous community space into a vibrant and dazzling arena, positively beaming and shining with light, color and inspiration everywhere the eyes turned.

Walking through the entryway to the gardens, I couldn’t help but catch my breath in light of the sheer beauty of the gardens themselves. Displaying every shade of green imaginable, the lush display of life was felt in every one of my own living cells and was most certainly appreciated by every pair of awe-filled eyes present.  Small hands reached out to touch the colorful rainbow of edible flowers and grasp leaves of curly, robust kale. Sunlight filtered through the passing clouds and highlighted the beauty of the dancing prayer flags, the gossamer feathers of clucking hens, the hand-painted signs, decorated tents, impressive teepees and festooned stages that filled the lush space like a child’s scattered jigsaw puzzle.

The various lectures, workshops and performances managed to succinctly unite education with celebration, offering hands-on experience for those eagre to get their hands dirty (literally!), as well as various stages of entertainment for those who preferred to lounge away the sunny Sunday afternoon on soft grass and piled hay bales, freshly squeezed lemonade in one hand and vegan san choy bow in the other.

The healing centre was a soothing maze of traditional teepees and abundant massage tables that offered everything from reiki to tarot, past life regressions to chakra meditations. A timetable was overflowing with workshops on laughter yoga, belly dancing, healing heart songs and the medicinal properties of native flower essences. Amidst colorful pansies and stalks of fresh rosemary, people came together to share gifts of healing and nurturing, dedicating time to focus on stillness and wholeness.

The various talks and lectures that kicked off bright and early in the morning offered practical and sustainable solutions on living harmoniously in our contemporary world. Group discussions centred around permaculture and quantum agriculture, there were demonstrations on earth batteries and electric cars, workshops on keeping chooks and home composting, and hands-on workshops in basket weaving and planting seasonal fruit trees.

The food arena was a sensory delight! Amidst the intoxicating array of delicious and tantalizing aromas, people meandered with compostable cane plates holding fresh green salads straight from the garden topped with sizzling tempeh and edible flowers or raw pizza slices topped with fresh seasonal vegetables on a crunchy dehydrated crust. Others sipped cool, refreshing cane juice, creamy chili hot chocolates or spicy soy chai with cardamom, nutmeg and honey. Hand made chocolates, berry chia seed puddings, dark fudge brownies and raw key lime pie made the heavenly afternoon just a touch sweeter. Local chefs and stall owners from Open Table and Organic Passion Catering offered cooking demonstrations utilizing the fresh abundance of produce from the garden and introducing new tastes and textures to make the most of the new Spring harvest.

Children of all ages were in their element with a cacophony of activities to keep them occupied while their parents were engrossed with talks on sacred geometry and quantum agriculture. Caperiroa, slack lining, circus arts, kids yoga, skateboarding, face painting, story telling and the formation of beautiful earth mandalas were just a handful of the activities on offer for children wishing to broaden their minds and unleash excited energy. Small fairy-faced girls frolicked amidst the rows of lettuce and vines of tomatoes and young boys circled the electric car with dream-filled eyes and wide smiles.

Indigenous wisdom was expressed and shared through didgeridoo activation and sound healings, discussions on how to live in tribal and social sovereignty, as well as special medicine journeys and traditional indigenous ceremonies.

Dance, music and celebration rounded out the day as focused learning gave way to frenzied, playful dancing. As the sun set over the sprawling fig trees and the night’s sky began to shine with glittering stars, local music legends Fhya Walk brought some reggae stomps into the worn soil and local gypsy spirits Shashuka brought their usual sweet and sultry vibes to the crowds who either chose to kick up their bare heels or simply enjoy the atmosphere with a steaming cup of chai and a slice of orange and almond cake.

The second annual Living Earth Festival was a consummate and resounding success, with over four thousand pairs of green soles wandering through the lush garden space throughout the course of the day and evening. It was a day that made me proud to live in a part of the world where people care enough to not only spend their Sunday learning, sharing and interacting with the wider community to create social change, but proud that such a beautiful event could be conceived and given life to, one that unites and embraces the entire community at large.

I left the grounds feeling inspired, warmed through, with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. With a touch of faith, commitment, dedication and enthusiasm, the day suggested so many simple and practical ways to live sustainably and in greater integrity with the earth and our neighbors. Every nook and cranny offered a holistic, innovative and nourishing model for our community to set new standards to live by and the various eco warriors that call this part of the world home all seemed to leave with an extra spring in their step. With rosy cheeks, earth-stained souls, a tummy filled of organic goodness and a mind bursting with ideas and inspiration, I returned home feeling on top of this beautiful world.

Photo’s thanks to Tommy Leitch

Story thanks to Kelly Kaiana

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